Engagement rings are becoming increasingly expensive and can cost thousands of pounds. They are therefore a valuable asset and so it is understandable that someone might not want to return it if they separate.
Ownership of an engagement ring seems really simple, and broadly speaking, it is considered in law as being an ‘absolute gift’, belonging to the person it was given to. Neither does it matter who ended the relationship; legally, the ring does not have to be returned to the person who paid for it, whether they were the one to break it off or not. Of course, there are always exceptions, and this article discusses when an engagement ring can be kept, and when it must be returned.
What if the engagement ring was given on the condition that it would be returned on separation or divorce?
If an engagement ring has been given on the basis, whether this has been stated or implied, that it should be returned if the marriage does not work out, the ring should be given back. Although in reality, unless this is obtained in writing, it may not be as simple as just asking your ex to hand it over. It is extremely rare, but an application can be made to the court for return of the engagement ring if no agreement can be reached. However, in many cases, a costs/benefits analysis may show that the likely value of the costs involves in going to court far outweighs the value of the ring itself.
What if the engagement ring is a family heirloom?
A court may be more sympathetic to those who can prove the engagement ring was a treasured family heirloom, and assume there was an implied intention of return. However, this may be challenging to prove in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
Engagement ring ownership could be set out in a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, and although these are not legally binding on the court, they will be taken into consideration in divorce proceedings if the document meets the qualifying criteria.
In order to be certain that an engagement ring is returned if the relationship breaks down, the couple could create a written agreement specifically setting out the terms of ownership and the conditions in which the ring must be returned.
Will I have to disclose my engagement ring on the Form E financial statement?
In financial proceedings, the court will take into account the value of all the assets within the matrimonial pot, and that includes jewellery. In essence, the greater the value of any jewellery, the more likely it is to be considered.
Form E financial statements require that any personal belongings over the value of £500 must be disclosed and itemised on the form, including an engagement ring. For valuation purposes, the reasonable resale value is used as opposed to an insurance valuation.
What can I do with my engagement ring after divorce?
Once you have divorced, you may be wondering what to do with your engagement ring. Read on for our suggestions:
- Continue to wear it
- Wear it on a different finger
- Wear it looped through a necklace
- Make it into another piece of jewellery
- Pass it down to your children
- Tuck it away somewhere safe
- Sell it
Who gets to keep the engagement ring after divorce is not always straightforward and depends on the individual circumstances of each case. The general rule is that an engagement ring belongs to the recipient and is considered a gift unless it is a family heirloom which, in most cases, should be returned to its original owner.
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